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India Approves $556 Million For Deep Ocean Mission in Indian Ocean Region

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, on Wednesday, approved the Rs 4,077-crore  (some 556 million USD) budget for Deep Ocean Mission that will make India, one among the handful of powerful nations that already have dedicated ocean studies and missions, including the US, Japan, France, Russia, and China.

The need for core Deep Ocean Mission is: Deep ocean survey exploration And Conservation of deep-sea biodiversity.

The mission also provides impetus to India’s Blue Economy initiatives — planned from 2020 to 2030 — which envisages several researches that will be performed to study the oceans, of which very little is known. Five thrust areas under the Deep Ocean Mission are — development of technologies for deep sea mining; manned submersible; development of ocean climate change advisory services; development of technology for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity; deep ocean survey and setting up of a marine station for ocean Biology. This will be done with the help of the UN.

The five-year inter-ministerial and inter-departmental mission will bring together researchers and experts from the Indian Space Research Organisation, Defence Development and Research Organisation, Department of Atomic Energy, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of Biotechnology, and the Indian Navy. Marine biology, mineral exploration, and climate change studies are part of the five-year mission.

An estimated Rs 2,823.4 crore will be spent during the mission’s first phase, scheduled between 2021 and 2024. India, which has an over 7,500-km-long coastline, is flanked by the sea on three sides. It has nine coastal states and 1,382 islands. Given the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean region for the country, the mission will help India tighten its grip in the South Asia region.

Globally, only 11 percent of marine species have been identified. The deep ocean species are even less explored. Different researches have shown the critical unexplored state of ocean floor diversity. The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research in Goa and the University of California collaborative study have highlighted that the Indian Ocean floor at a depth of 3,000m to 6,000m was rich in biodiversity, both small and large. Species found around underwater mountain ridges remain virtually unexplored. YOUMARE Conference in Oldenburg, Germany highlighted that unbridled exploration is the primary threat to ocean biodiversity worldwide. It took the Indian government 17 years to take note and start exploring the ocean depths and conserve its biodiversity.

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